20 jan 22

What’s Norway’s EV secret?

It gets very cold in Norway. Nevertheless, the country manages to lead the world in electric mobility – even though EVs supposedly can’t tolerate low temperatures. As other countries electrify their own fleets, what can they learn from the global frontrunner?

In 2021, just under two thirds of all new vehicles sold in Norway were BEVs or PHEVs. Before the summer, sales of electric vehicles in the Nordic country could reach… 100%.

Demand-side policies

In a recent article in Time, Christina Bu (pictured), Secretary-General of the Norwegian EV Association, explains how her country managed to become world leader in electrification, and how the example can benefit others.

If the share of electric vehicles has shot up from 1% to 65% in just 10 years, it’s not because Norway or Norwegians are more suitable to electrification. Rather, she said, it’s thanks to strong and enduring demand-side policies – in other words: heavy taxes on ICEs, none on EVs, tilting consumer choice towards the latter.

Since the Norwegian recipe has proved so effective, Ms. Bu would like to see it replicated elsewhere in the world: tax the most polluting vehicles, and use those funds to subsidise EVs. It’s less indiscriminate than a fuel tax, she says: it gives those who are about to acquire a vehicle an option to factor in emissions into their consideration, based on cost.

Bonus-malus approach

While more measures are needed, such a bonus-malus approach has shown that it is the essential and effective centre of any transition strategy – as shown by more recent successes in Sweden and New Zealand.

Ms. Bu is glad to see countries accelerate the energetic transition of their mobility sectors: “The UN’s last climate report was called ‘Code Red for humanity’. We are in a hurry when it comes to cutting emissions. So, when there are alternatives that are more than good enough, why not speed things up?”

Image: Norsk Elbilforening

Authored by: Frank Jacobs